In another timeline – the one with alligator Loki, perhaps – today would’ve been light and silly and fun and hopeful. Today, pitchers and catchers would’ve reported to Cubs camp, kicking off Spring Training and one of the best days of the baseball calendar: the first day when all outcomes are still theoretically possible. It’s a day to set rationality aside and just have fun with the return of your favorite team.
But this year, we don’t get that day. At least not now. There will be a version of that day coming at some point, but it’s kinda hard to imagine it brimming with quite as much buzzy energy given what will have preceded it.
We have officially entered the zone where the lockout and the failure to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement have impacted the season. It’s the first time that’s happened to Major League Baseball in 27 years. History made. This is not, however, history I am particularly interested in experiencing, much less covering.
At last check, the players and the owners were miles apart on critical economic issues, and the last best hope for condensed, but still-possibly-almost-normal, Spring Training went out the window with an “underwhelming” offer from the owners on Saturday. Spring Training games will now be lost, and it’s only a matter of time before teams start contacting ticket-holders with whatever the heck the plan is. The scheduled start of regular season is in serious peril, too.
Where do we go from here? Well, the players will presumably respond in the coming days with a counter-offer of their own, though I would not expect massive movement, given how MLB has proceeded. Your best case is probably three or four rounds of back-and-forth like this before the sides are close enough to do the hunker down and bang it out thing, maybe at the end of this month. If that happens, you’d see a week or so of Offseason Part Two, and then no more than four weeks of Spring Training. The opening week of the regular season would have to be cancelled or rescheduled in a way to not lose games (note that, even in my best case here, Opening Day is still impacted in at least some way).
It seems more likely that this process will still take a bit longer – maybe a lot longer – and regular season games will eventually be lost. It’s pretty unbelievable that MLB would let that happen after the last two years, but it is even more unbelievable to think a miracle deal is coming together soon. So, yes, I worry that the season is going to be delayed and reduced.
But that’s a fear for another day. Today is about the reality that we have now already lost something.
Today sucks. pic.twitter.com/HAACUyoUW7
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 15, 2022